Rwandan refugee in Sudbury hopes people open their hearts during Syrian crisis
'You can change the life of one person,' says Emilienne Murera
Emilienne Murera knows all-too-well the struggles and hardships of being a refugee displaced by conflict — and the Laurentian University student in Sudbury hopes the world reaches out to the many thousands of refugees currently in need.
- Northern Ontario cities take steps to support Syrian refugees
- Canadian cities, provinces make their pitch to help Syrian refugees
When the genocide in Rwanda in the early-90s finally forced her family of nine — including 7 small children — out of the country, Murera said they fled to Burundi before landing in a refugee camp in Tanzania.
These people ... they don't have a future.- Emilienne Murera
"Being a refugee, I always say it's just like a blind person, because you ... have no idea of where you are going," she explained.
Murera said the conditions in her camp were meagre at best: cornmeal, beans, cooking oil and soap were handed out sporadically to keep people going, but clean water and good housing were often a problem. She said many lived in tents, but others in mud houses suffered when the rainy seasons destroyed the makeshift homes.
"Everything [in a refugee camp] is about today, there is nothing about tomorrow."
Watching the international refugee crisis unfold now, Murera is reflecting on just how hard that time was for her family.
"These people are facing harsh weather, they are suffering from different diseases, they don't have food, they're hungry — they don't have a future," she said.
Murera now hopes people don't turn a blind eye to the suffering.
"If you are able to help, I would ask people, if they can, to help as much as they can," she said. "You can change the life of one person. You are changing the life of many people around that person."
As for Murera's life in Sudbury these days:
"I'm happy. I have dreams ... It makes me feel very good and honoured to be part of this huge country, and to have a country where I can stay peacefully ... and where I can have rights as a human being."
Listen here to the complete interview with Emilienne Murera on CBC Sudbury's afternoon current affairs show Up North: